Migos celebrate ‘Culture II’ with a victorious yet risk-free London show

The Atlanta trio's first UK gig since the release of 'Culture II' was an ultimately safe victory lap for a group at the peak of their powers

Just under a year ago, NME asked Migos – and their Quality Control labelmate Lil Yachty – what ingredients are needed for a good live show. The consensus? Chucking around tons of water, jumping off stage, and starting mosh pits – y’know, all the good stuff.

The Atlanta trio certainly talk a big game, and it’s that inherent blend of swagger and confidence – along with a hefty back catalogue of hits, bangers and deep trap cuts – that no doubt aided the speedy selling out of the O2 Academy Brixton last night (March 20). Announced late last week, the surprise gig was the group’s first live UK outing since the release of their third studio album ‘Culture II’, which features a host of big names (Drake, Cardi B and Post Malone) and promptly soared to the top of the US charts in its first week.

A celebration was definitely in order for the Migos then, and Quavo, Offset and Takeoff were certainly in the mood for a party as they rocked up to the Brixton stage last night. Lapping up the boundless energy of the crowd – plenty of whom flouted the venue’s indoor smoking rules, as well as draining the fuck out of their smartphone batteries in order to capture the show’s liveliest moments – it made for a memorable, if ultimately risk-free, night.

Here are some of the key takeaways from an evening spent in the company of the three Migos.

T-SHIRT @migos #o2academybrixton #migos #culture

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DJ Durel deserves a pay rise

Migos’ long-time producer and tour DJ is the beating heart of the group’s live shows. Delivering a wall-shaking warm-up set (following an equally lively DJ stint from BBC Radio 1Xtra’s Semtex) which included some suitably stirring offerings by the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Playboi Carti and Travis Scott, Durel kept things ticking over in Brixton throughout the night: from stalling for time as Migos got gig-ready, to sounding foghorns mid-set to shake off any fatigue. The DJ is truly the life and soul of a Migos show – no Durel, no party.

Takeoff still needs to come out of his shell

While Quavo (the group’s Beyoncé figure) and Offset (the group’s bad boy figure with the superstar fiancée) have their roles set, Takeoff’s presence in the Migos of 2018 still appears to be uncertain. Is he the quiet, misunderstood one who was done a major disservice by being left off ‘Bad and Boujee’ (as much as he says he wasn’t)? Is he actually the most switched-on, in-tune member of the group? Or is he just happy to be along for the ride?

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He’s certainly not any less important to Migos than Quavo or Offset are, and his presence on ‘Culture II’ provides some of the overlong record’s highlights (the gorgeous ‘Made Men’, for one), so it makes you wonder why he seems happy to take a back seat so often.

This was largely in evidence in Brixton, with Takeoff skulking around the stage with his hood up for almost the entirety of the show and occasionally falling behind the backing track. Still, his verses on the likes of ‘T Shirt’ and ‘Fight Night’ send the crowd wild – more glimpses of this star quality, please.

Could ‘Stir Fry’ be an even bigger banger than ‘Bad and Boujee’?

‘Bad and Boujee’ catapulted Migos to music’s top table last year, with the Lil Uzi Vert-featuring track seemingly everywhere at the start of 2017 after it received a very public endorsement from Atlanta‘s Donald Glover. It became the group’s calling card, regularly prompting a mass of lit phones whenever they played it live.

The success of that single would’ve put some pressure on the presence of a similar border-crossing banger on ‘Culture II’, but, luckily, ‘Stir Fry’ was all that and then some. The Pharrell-produced track – which isn’t exactly an ode to the Chinese cuisine – whistles and grooves its way into any unsuspecting heart, and serves as a very satisfying set-closer on the night. Woof!

Sadly, no special guests

Alas, in the week Migos unveiled their incredible Soul Train-inspired video for the Drake collaboration ‘Walk It Talk It’, you’d have been forgiven for holding out hope that renowned London-lover Drizzy might’ve hopped on his private plane to Blighty for a quick on-stage collab – but it wasn’t to be.

Same goes for Cardi B, who recently dropped a stand-out verse on the ‘Culture II’ track ‘MotorSport’. In her honour, Cardi’s contribution to the track is given an airing by DJ Durel – much to the delight of the crowd, who belt it back at the group at a deafening volume.

 

The world’s biggest group – but not quite the world’s best live act

“Thank you for making us the biggest group in the world!” cried Quavo as proceedings drew to a close. There’s no question that Migos’ self-belief is certainly there, and the numbers, fans and accolades that just keep on piling up in their corner are going some way to proving Quavo’s proclamation right.

But for all the pyro, dry ice and confetti cannons that ramp up the energy of tonight, you still get the nagging feeling that the three Migos aren’t quite the finished article in the live arena. They may be prolific recording maestros, but you get the sense that they’re still feeling their way around how to feel comfortable as a group during a live show – hence the aforementioned importance of DJ Durel.

That will hopefully be refined as the stages and venues get bigger – they’ve got a huge festival season coming up, including sets at Wireless and Reading & Leeds – and, despite the lack of additional thrills, guests or stage dives, no-one would’ve gone away last night feeling short-changed. Long live the Migos.